Obama’s Approval Rating Could Spell Disaster in 2010 Elections

The upshot of all this is bad news for the president and his party come November.


The White House had hoped that the summer of 2010 would be “recovery summer,” a time when the jobs numbers would rebound and the U.S. economy would again begin to grow.

[Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the economy.]

They must be disappointed. The economy, as it has been for most of the time Barack Obama has been president, remains flat on its back--with many analysts predicting that more bad news is on the horizon. The stimulus, which remains the cornerstone of Obama’s legislative achievements, continues to perform at a level something less than advertised, with its supporters continuing to cling to the nebulous concept of “jobs saved” as a way to defend it.

Also failing to mount a recovery during July and August have been Obama’s presidential approval ratings.

The latest Gallup survey, a random sample of 3,672 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling, shows Obama at the lowest point yet in his presidency. Now at just 44 percent, he has seen support for his agenda collapse since the beginning of the year--when nearly three-quarters of the nation gave him favorable marks.

“The drop in Obama's weekly average was driven by particularly low ratings near the end of the week, with record-low three-day rolling averages of 42 percent for August 12-14 and August 13-15 polling,” Gallup said. “Prior to this weekend, Obama's three-day low had been 44 percent. Additionally, Obama's disapproval rating reached 50 percent for the first time in the August 13-15 average.”

Clearly the Republicans’ opposition to his agenda is resonating with the electorate, whose views on Obama are even more sharply defined than those of all adults--not all of whom will be voting in the upcoming election. While his support among Democrats remains high, he continues to lose--by a few points a week--the backing on self-described Independents and those few Republicans who had stuck by him going in to the summer.

The upshot of all this is bad news for the president and his party come November. “A president's job approval ratings are related to his party's success in midterm elections,” Gallup reports. “Presidents with ratings below 50 percent have seen their party lose 36 seats on average in midterm House elections--with a range of 11 to 55 seats lost. A continuation of Obama's current pattern of approval ratings well below 50 percent would not bode well for the Democrats this fall.”

Give Gallup the award for the understatement of the week.

  • Check out our editorial cartoons on the 2010 campaigns.
  • Follow the money in Congress.
  • See a slide show of the 10 keys to an Obama comeback.
  • Corrected on : Updated on 8/17/10: A new first paragraph has been inserted into the text of this blog post.